Infrastructure on the Rise in China

China kicks infrastructure development into high gear.

"China's rapid economic growth and equally rapid integration into the global economic system is putting huge strains on its infrastructure. This has led to a spate of spending on transport. Between 2001 and the end of 2005 more was spent on roads, railways and other fixed assets than was spent in the previous 50 years. According to the state media, investment will see double-digit growth every year for the rest of the decade. Between 2006 and 2010, $200 billion is expected to be invested in railways alone, four times more than in the previous five years."

"Superlatives abound. The world's longest sea-crossing bridge is due to open in June: a 36km six-lane highway across Hangzhou Bay (about the same length as the undersea portion of the Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France). This will halve travel time between two of China's busiest ports, Ningbo and Shanghai, to about two hours. Shanghai itself is home to the current world-record holder for such a structure, the 32km Donghai bridge. This was opened less than three years ago to link the city with Yangshan port, now being built on two flattened islands. Yangshan is intended to be one of the world's biggest deep-water facilities when completed at some point after 2010."

Full Story: Rushing on by road, rail and air



Chinese planning

This is great article explaining what major infrastructure projects are in the works in China and the implications. I still don't think most Americans have gotten the message on how much China has changed. I was in central China (Hunan, Hubei provinces) in 1997 to see the Three Gorges Dam project. Obviously, things have changed a great deal in just the last 11 years when the country has a 10% growth rate per year in GDP. The dam got plenty of publicity but most of China is off the radar.

"In all this activity it greatly helps to have a secretive planning bureaucracy and a government that brooks little dissent. In Britain, as Mr Majidi points out, it took as long to conduct a public inquiry into the proposed construction of Heathrow's Terminal Five as it took to build Beijing's new airport terminal from scratch. . . Once a plan is made, it is executed. “Democracy”, she says, “sacrifices efficiency.”

I've heard praise for development in China and how much more they invest in infrastructure than the U.S. does but the U.S. built most of it's infrastucture years ago and the main problem has become maintenance. When I was kid, I wondered why people would give up their freedoms for an authoritian state. It has the advantage of being able to push projects forward but are the projects best for the country in the long run? Some planners grumble about too much NIMBYism by the public but I've heard a few young people talk about how much better things work and are newer in China. There was talk like that before about the "New Germany" and "New Soviet Man" as well. Then there were somewhat more benign examples of Japan's industrial prowess or of oil-rich Middle Eastern nations buying up the world.

China is bent on rapid development at any cost but there doesn't seem to be much real criticism on environmental matters from the rest of the world. To be fair there may criticism but most of it doesn't reach China so what's the point? I used to watch CCTV (Chinese news in English) and never saw a story critical of the national government. There's little indication China would abide by a Kyoto-type agreement even if the U.S. signed on. The Chinese can't follow international copywrite law and pressure about Tibet has gone nowhere so I can't see much hope on world opinion doing anything. The Chinese attitude is we were poor, exploited country which was the most advanced civilization on the planet so it's hypocritical of developed countries to now preach sustainable development since they did so without regard for the environment in the past. China has become a big player on the world economy so there's not much economic sanctions could do without shooting ourselves in the foot after all the Chinese investing in the U.S..

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